Profits are still being privatized and losses are about to be socialized.
The NFL Players Association has advised its board of player representatives that the league wants to place 35% of the wages of players in receivership to help manage costs during the 2020 season, according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.
The proposal is described as an “option on the table”. And it’s a hell of an option.
NFL Media previously discussed the possibility of salary reimbursements this season, as the league faces loss of revenue from fewer (or not) fans in games and less (or not) pre-games. Canceling regular season games would further reduce revenues.
The labor agreement has no mechanism to allow wage cuts. At best, if no match is played, the league would be able to argue, in the language of the standard player contract, that there is never an obligation to pay players’ wages. If only one game is played, the CBA supports an argument that players get their full pay.
The problem arises in 2021, when the salary ceiling would be impacted by a drop in income in 2020. Reducing the players’ wages now would be a cover against this possibility.
Either way, it would be easy for players to say that when things go well, the league does not give players extra money. And players never get the ever increasing value of the 32 franchises. So players could take a stand that the deal is the deal – just like the league and many members of the media say every time there is an aspect of the CBA that, as applied, harms interests wider players.
That said, if players intend to lobby for games without pre-season, it’s fair that losses from non-pre-season should be shared. But it is different to share reduced income, when the efforts, sacrifices and risks of the players do not change. In fact, this year, these efforts, sacrifices and risks will be even greater.